The Peacemaker Who Became More

October 2012 Silmarien Szilagyi

With a new school year comes a new column. This one will take a more informal tone and is purely for fun, as opposed to my previous two, which were scientific. Don't get me wrong; those were fun, too, but this will be more fun! I hope... In each article of "Femme Fatales of Science-Fiction," we'll get to know one strong, intelligent, butt-kicking woman from a sci-fi show. So without further ado, let's dive in!

Aeryn Sun, Farscape. Peacekeeper. Wife. Mother. It seemed fitting to begin with her, as she experiences the most change and growth among her fellow femme fatales. At the start of the series, she's a fierce sebacean soldier, whose sole goal in life was to advance in the Peacekeeper echelon. "I had this life. I liked it. It had rules, I followed the rules. That made everything right. And then you come along and frell everything up. This strange human..." That "strange human" is John Crichton, who literally crashed into the scene and wasted no time in trying to prove to Aeryn that she could be more. Oh how hard that man tried! He treated her and the other aliens aboard the ship with compassion; she scorned him for it. He attempted diplomacy; she ran in, pulse pistols firing. He quickly developed feelings for her; she kept him coldly at arms' length. It seemed the iron wall around Aeryn Sun would never lower.

Then things changed. Aeryn succumbed to heat delirium, a sebacean hyper-fever caused by hot temperatures and a species-wide lack of sweat (sebaceous) glands to compensate. If a sebacean remained in heat delirium for too long, he or she would fall into the living death--essentially a coma--until killed by a merciful comrade. This was what Aeryn begged Crichton to do, but when the moment came, he couldn't. He enacted a last, desperate plan to lower the heat that miraculously worked, or else Aeryn would have been lost. Initially, Aeryn was disappointed that Crichton broke his promise to her, but simultaneously, I think she began to realize his merits. And I believe this is the seed that led to the eventual shedding of Aeryn's metaphorical armor. In small, subtle ways, she's out of character. She regards Crichton as more than a shipmate; she begins to develop a wider range of emotions--emotions other than anger and impatience; she allows herself to bond with others; and most importantly, she realizes that she can be more than a Peacekeeper. Now this doesn't mean the changes are immediate or even readily apparent. And it certainly doesn't mean she embraces them. No, they're progressive, initially nearly-missed, and resisted. But the foundation's there.

What's truly astonishing, however, is when Aeryn and Crichton swap roles. She becomes the emotional one; he, the rational. She ceases pushing him away; he begins to push her away. She softens; he toughens up. Her Peacekeeper training, it seems, has mostly worn off, though again, that's not to say she doesn't still enjoy a good fight. But the Aeryn Sun in the first episode probably wouldn't recognize this one, and if she did, she would consider her weak. Yet I believe this Aeryn is stronger than the original one--this one has loved and lost, has experienced joy and turmoil the original never imagined, and has come out of it all a more developed and optimistic character. In the end, it is she who yearns for peace. And that is most remarkable of all. Okay, so I lied. This article is more somber than I intended, but hey, who am I to deny where the words take me? I promise the next installment will be more cheerful. Or not. After all, I'm nothing if not a slave to the writing gods.